Man charged with trying to rob 17-year-old at bank ATM in downtown Chicago

CHICAGO — There’s an old scam that goes like this: A fraudster asks a victim to help him cash a check at an ATM. They give the victim a check for, say, $500, which the victim deposits. Then, the scam artists ask for just $400 or $450 back from the victim, telling them to keep the rest as their “thanks” for helping. Of course, the check eventually bounces, and the victim is out of cash.

Keep that in mind as we tell you about a man who is charged with trying to rob a 17-year-old boy at a bank ATM in the Loop on Monday evening.

Chicago police responded to the Bank of America at 33 North Dearborn around 6:40 p.m. in response to a person calling for help in the ATM vestibule. Before cops arrived, CPD surveillance officers pulled up the feed from a nearby camera and confirmed that someone was being held against their will inside the ATM lobby.

When officers got to the bank, they found a woman and a 17-year-old boy inside the ATM, along with 25-year-old Eric Elem, a CPD report said. The cops motioned for Elem to open the door, but he refused, according to the report.

But the 17-year-old managed to open the door for the officers, who entered and asked Elem to “chill,” the report continued. They say he didn’t chill at all. He tried to run away, wrestled with a cop on the ground, and ignored the officers’ orders, according to the report. The police eventually tazed Elem and took him into custody.

Eric Elem and the Bank of America at 33 North Dearborn | Yelp; Chicago Police Department

The teenager then explained that he was inside the vestibule when Elem entered and asked him to deposit a check, the police report said. Officials said Elem eventually “forced” the boy to deposit the check and ordered him to withdraw $400.

But the kid’s bank account didn’t have $400 in it, and he explained that he had no way to pay Elem the $400 he wanted, according to the police. Elem held the boy inside the vestibule against his will, ordering him to hand over $400 or “I will hurt you,” the report said.

Prosecutors charged Elem with attempted robbery and misdemeanor counts of resisting police and obstructing identification.

Judge Kelly McCarthy ordered him to pay a $4,000 bail deposit to get out of jail on electronic monitoring.

Court records show he was convicted of felony unlawful use of a weapon and escape from electronic monitoring in 2019.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is